THE rAVe Agency’s own Megan A. Dutta, director of emerging markets at LAVNCH, virtually met with Dave Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, to discuss the many recent cancellations of in-person events in the AV industry and the expectations around InfoComm 2021. As of Sept. 15, 2021, both NAB Show 2021 and Enterprise Connect have been canceled due to rising COVID-19 and delta variant cases. Because these two shows were canceled and postponed until 2022, many have wondered if the in-person InfoComm 2021 event will follow suit.
Dave Labuskes said the decision to cancel these events has not and will not impact the decisions made around InfoComm 2021. Dave was not included in the decision-making process of canceling either NAB Show 2021 or Enterprise Connect but understands why the decision was made.
“I certainly respect their right and privilege and responsibility to make the best decision they can for their events, their audience, their marketplace,” said Labuskes. “As we approach Orlando and approach October, I can tell you with certainty that the show will look completely different than any other InfoComm we’ve ever had.”
Though the show will have to operate differently from previous years, Dave said his hope is to provide a show where commerce and connection still occur. He said he is 100% confident the event can deliver value to participants but said he could not say with 100% certainty that there will be an in-person show. As of now, InfoComm 2021, scheduled for Oct. 23-29, will still be taking place in Orlando as planned.
“I’m 99.999% certain that we will be in Orlando together at the end of October,” said Labuskes.
Labuskes also touched on what to expect from the show in October. InfoComm has many health and safety protocols outlined on its website for the safety of its attendees and exhibitors. Masks will be required, and attendees will have to either provide proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test within the previous five days to be granted entry to the event. Documentation of these requirements will be checked through an app called Health Pass, and information about the app and other conditions will be outlined in emails upon registering for the event. He also said the show will provide COVID-19 testing on-site for those who require and/or need testing.
Megan asked Labuskes why testing is only required for unvaccinated attendees. He said that it is not up to him to decide for others if it is safe to attend the show.
“In my personal and professional opinion, it is highly presumptuous of me to even suggest that I have the right to try to convince you of how you should feel about that. That is at the core of respecting each other as human beings; it is respecting each other’s personal decision about risk,” he said. “What we are doing as a show organizer is looking at what are the pragmatic steps that we can take, what are the practical aspects that are available to us that we can deliver in Orlando, Florida, that will provide a culture of safety and a reality of safety within the event.”
Labuskes said his team looked at data about the risk to vaccinated people versus unvaccinated people when making entry requirement decisions. He believes there is a point where unreasonable limitations can be imposed that do not benefit the show or its safety parameters.
As far as the show’s events will go, social distancing will be heavily imposed. AVIXA is providing distanced seating arrangements and will require pre-registration for education passes and classes. Physical indicators will be present to highlight spacing between attendees, and rooms will have a capacity limit as to how many people can be inside classrooms at any given time. Labuskes said very few instructors for the education classes have canceled and they have been able to find alternatives when need be.
“They (instructors) are some of the most committed volunteers in the industry, they are some of the most passionate about AV and about sharing their knowledge and their expertise,” Labuskes said. “It really underscores the value of the event itself that they’re coming and they’re looking forward to sharing their knowledge and seeing you.”
To find out more about InfoComm 2021 and register to attend, head over to InfoCommShow.org. You can find the entire interview between Megan and Dave below: